In brief

In brief

  • To address the massive scale and swift pace required for today’s decision-making, Utilities CFOs must use technology to unleash breakthrough speed.
  • The requirements of the CFO’s core function are evolving, and an elite group is already embodying three new roles.
  • CFOs who emulate their behaviors could almost double the compound annual growth rate of their organizations, according to our research.

Speed matters in any business function. But for today’s utilities CFO, who is making billion-dollar decisions on a weekly or daily basis, there’s a chasm that grows by the minute between those who harness speed and those who can’t.

For utilities, managing the impact of Covid-19 only added to a long list of complex and extremely important challenges. Above all, businesses in the sector are striving to create an industry that is powered by clean energy. The technology exists to transition to a sustainable energy system by 2050, so many are focusing their energies on adaptation at speed.

Utilities are also navigating an uncertain economy. The IMF and World Bank expect the world to return to growth as the crisis recedes, but they disagree on the speed and consistency of recovery. Then there are internal initiatives. Utilities are embracing high-powered analytics tools and seeking to invest effectively. The need for new IP also applies to skills: the sector is in competition with other, newer industries for the smartest talent. Taking decisions against this backdrop is not straightforward.

The industry is feeling pressure to change more quickly, driven by increases in internal and external challenges putting pressure on the financial instruments of the company.

Utilities CFOs ready to confront challenges head on

Accenture’s latest CFO Survey reveals they are more likely than their counterparts in other sectors to consider themselves accountable for navigating upheaval.


of utilities CFOs who believe they amongst all C-suite executives, are best placed to ensure the resilience of the organization in today’s operating climate.


of utilities CFOs agree that, whatever happens in the broader economy, the businesses must not lose sight of what is required to improve competitiveness and drive new growth.


of utilities CFOs who say they have been involved in business-wide transformation.

Speed within reach

Many CFOs acknowledge the opportunities that speed and technology present: insight-driven decisions and new business opportunities. But there’s also a large gap between what finance leaders say they want to accomplish and what they’re able to do in terms of accelerating their predictive ability and expanding their influence.

In organizations that far exceeded revenue growth expectations over the past year, CFOs have occupied new and expanded roles

CFOs as economic guardians: lead an efficient and effective finance function focused on predictive insights in a volatile world.

CFOs as architects of business value: Collaborate with the C-suite to drive strategic change across the enterprise.

Catalyst of digital strategy: Create insights for new business models and realize value in a digital world.

A roadmap for success

Utilities CFOs are steering their businesses through uncertainty, driving widespread transformation, and they are ambitious to create new value. How, then, to manage this demanding workload – to deliver across three significant and interrelated objectives?

1. Close the gap between the CFO and operational finance

Right now, 78% of utilities CFOs concede there is a gap between the CFO’s strategic endeavors and the priorities, responsibilities and performance yardsticks throughout the rest of the finance function. The result is that too often, finance leadership and operational teams are focused on different goals.

2. Collaborate and integrate

CFOs are determined to be their organizations’ change-makers and value creators, but they must accept this is a shared endeavor. Without building stronger relationships with the rest of the enterprise, such ambition is likely to come up short. The good news is that utilities CFOs recognize that lack of integration and collaboration stands in their way as they drive strategic change: 34% cite this problem. Now they must overcome it.

3. Invest now to stay ahead of future regulation

Compliance with regulation across jurisdictions will be a priority in the years to come. In regulated environments, public authorities set the terms of engagement, so the key is to focus on the direction of travel rather than the immediate constrains.

Craig Richey

Senior Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, CFO & Enterprise Value North America Lead

Nick Farwig

Managing Director – Consulting, North America Utilities, CFO & Enterprise Value Lead


CFO Now: Breakthrough speed for breakout value
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